For 54 minutes, the game was scoreless. The Caps lost three forwards to injury in the first, didn’t generate much on a 5-minute power play and weren’t able to get into a rhythm offensively at 5-on-5. The Red Wings were stymied speed-wise but able to occasionally get a nice chance on Braden Holtby.
Then, there was a loose puck in front of Jimmy Howard, Jay Beagle dropped to one knee and got his stick on the puck, and the Caps emerged with two points.
Here's Friday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Braden Holtby. He made at least three saves on the doorstep with his right pad (including a marvelous one in the final minute on Gustav Nyquist, after Detroit had pulled Howard), and made several other great saves to keep the game tied.
- Minus: Andre Burakovsky’s luck. He hit the inside of the right post on the first shift of the game, got another good opportunity from the slot on the power play, then left the game before the first was out. That’s 31 shots on net and counting without a goal.
And now, this...
Caps playing with three lines now:— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 19, 2016
Ten more notes on the game:
- T.J. Oshie left the game in the first. He hit Riley Sheahan in open ice and, unfortunately for Oshie, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Oshie skated doubled over to the bench and headed to the locker room not long after.
- The Caps were afforded a great chance to take control of the game in the first on a five-minute power play (drawn by Tom Wilson, who was hit in the numbers by Danny DeKeyser). The Capitals did get a couple of good chances (from Alex Ovechkin and Burakovsky) but Detroit otherwise did a good job blocking or deflecting shots away.
- Wilson left the game after the hit but returned shortly after. Lars Eller and Burakovsky, though, also left and did not return. Eller (who played only 45 seconds) and Oshie were shortly ruled out for the game, while Burakovsky was ruled doubtful to return (and did not).
- At the other end of the rink, Holtby’s workload increased as the game went along and he was up to the task. With about four minutes to go in the first, he made a sparkling pad save on Tomas Tatar on a 2-on-1. He made another save on a redirect on the doorstep on a Red Wings power play in the second. And he made a great desperation save on Nyquist in the final minute. He was in control—it was one of those games where it seemed like like he could have made 40 or 50 saves.
- As it happened, he only had to make 25. Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner were solid (again) in front of him. The defensive zone coverage from the other four could have been a little better at 5-on-5, but it was still fine. John Carlson did make some careless turnovers in the third (including one in the slot to Nyquist), though.
- The second period started inconspicuously, although the Caps had the better of play. Brett Connolly took Oshie’s spot with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and had a team-best +7 shot attempt differential.
- With three top-nine forwards out, Justin Williams, Nicklas Backstrom, and Jay Beagle (!) all played more than 20 minutes. Beagle played over five minutes shorthanded in this game. Linemate Tom Wilson also added solid play away from the puck.
- Alex Ovechkin had a nice opportunity to score the game’s first goal—after a nice zone entry, he received a cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson—but it looked like Jonathan Ericsson disrupted the shot slightly and Ovechkin didn’t get a clean shot off.
- Beagle finally broke the scoreless tie with under six minutes to play. Zach Sanford and Wilson won the puck in the corner. The puck came back to the point, and Dmitry Orlov fired it on net past four players. The shot hit Howard’s left pad and bounced back out, and Beagle fired it in on his forehand for his fourth goal.
- Justin Williams almost added the Caps’ second moments later, but the puck stayed out as he tried to jam it in at the post. No matter, though—after Holtby robbed Nyquist, Detroit took a penalty, and didn’t manage to get another good chance.
The Capitals were fortunate to win this game—they lost three top-nine forwards, misfired on both their power plays, only scored one goal, and gave up some really good scoring chances.
But (regulation and overtime) wins all count the same in the standings, and the Caps are now only two points back of New York for first in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand (although NYR holds the tiebreaker).
On to host Columbus Sunday afternoon.